In a series of tweets this morning, Trump announced that he would be giving up operational control of his sprawling multi-national business empire.
Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
From both a legal and ethical perspective, this is a meaningless move. The concern is not Trump’s “operation” of his business, it’s his ownership.
If Trump retains ownership in his business empire, he will be the beneficiary of a stream of payments from foreign governments. This will place him in violation of the Constitution on the first day of his presidency, according to bipartisan experts, including George W. Bush’s Chief Ethics Counsel.
That’s why the only way to actually resolve the legal and ethical conflicts his businesses create is to sell his businesses and turn the cash over to a neutral third party. This is the actual definition of a “blind trust,” a mechanism used by presidents for decades to avoid conflicts.
Absent actual divestment, Trump is in not “leaving” his business empire in any meaningful way.
Nevertheless, local and national media have ignored this reality and simply parroted Trump’s propaganda. A sampling from Twitter:
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 30, 2016
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) November 30, 2016
— U.S. News (@usnews) November 30, 2016
Trump says he will give up control of his business operations “in total to fully focus on running the country” https://t.co/v7DD6RKu3I
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) November 30, 2016
Donald Trump Says He Will Be 'Leaving My Great Business in Total' https://t.co/atgRd3uk69
— WSJ Europe (@WSJeurope) November 30, 2016
— Reuters TV (@ReutersTV) November 30, 2016
Donald Trump says he will be 'leaving my great business in total' https://t.co/8zvtJwbUc5
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) November 30, 2016
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 30, 2016
Trump is taking advantage of a well-established media norm— if the president-elect says something, it’s news.
This president-elect, however, seems determined to deliberately mislead the media. If the media does not adjust — and quickly — the pubic will continue to be misinformed.